Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Randy Coy James Holmes, age 25, of Spokane, Washington, pled guilty today in federal court in Spokane, Washington to Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Federal Law Enforcement Officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1), (b), as well as to Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The charges stem from Holmes’s attempted robbery and shooting of an undercover law enforcement officer in November 2021. United States District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice, who presided at today’s hearing, set sentencing for June 21, 2023, 2023.
According to court documents and information disclosed at court proceedings, in early November 2021, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) Confidential Informant reported that Holmes, who is a documented Sureno gang member and uses the alias “Whispers,” was looking to obtain a firearm to conduct future strong-arm robberies. The informant arranged for Holmes to contact an undercover ATF agent so Holmes could purchase a firearm from the agent. ATF intended to sell Holmes an in operable firearm and then arrest him. The same day, a second ATF confidential informant advised ATF that Holmes contacted the second informant to obtain a firearm.
On November 5, 2021, Holmes agreed to meet the undercover ATF agent at the Motel 6 parking lot in Spokane to purchase the firearm. Holmes had offered to pay the undercover agent approximately one ounce of methamphetamine in exchange for the firearm, instead of U.S. Currency.
Holmes arrived at the Motel 6 as scheduled, driving a Dodge Charger. Holmes’s co-defendants, Vincent Petrushkin and William Huntington Burns, who are also Sureno gang members, were inside the Dodge Charger with Holmes. Before Holmes’s got out of the car, Burns provided Holmes with a firearm, which later was identified as a Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic handgun, as “protection” during the transaction with the undercover agent. Holmes then exited the Charger and got into the front passenger seat of the undercover ATF agent’s vehicle. During the transaction, the undercover agent expressed concerns to Holmes about conducting the transaction at that location given that Holmes arrived with two additional individuals in his car. The undercover agent then asked to move the transaction to a nearby parking lot, away from the two men in the Dodge Charger.
Holmes responded that he would “tell the homies” and started to get out of the undercover agent’s vehicle. Holmes, however, stopped short of fully exiting the vehicle. Instead, Holmes re-entered the vehicle, pulled out the Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic handgun, pointed the gun at the undercover agent’s head, and demanded the firearm the undercover agent was going to sell him. The undercover agent, who was in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm, advised Holmes the firearm was in the back of the car. Holmes then fully exited the undercover agent’s vehicle and ran around to the back of the car to obtain the firearm. When Holmes did so, the undercover agent exited the vehicle and directed Holmes to drop the gun. Rather than drop his firearm, Holmes repeatedly discharged the Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic handgun at the undercover agent, striking the agent multiple times, and causing the agent serious and permanent bodily injury. The undercover agent returned fire, striking Holmes a number of times. ATF surveillance agents quickly arrived at the scene and rendered life-saving aid to Holmes before he and the undercover agent were transported to the hospital. At the hospital, emergency room personnel located approximately 1 ounce of methamphetamine in Holmes’s jacket pocket.
Codefendants Petrushkin and Burns have both previously pled guilty to federal offenses related to this incident and are pending sentencing. Petrushkin pled guilty on April 1, 2022 to being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2). Burns, who was not a felon at the time of this incident, pled guilty to Transfer of a Firearm to a Prohibited Person, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(d), 924(a)(2) on March 1, 2023. Both codefendants are pending sentencing.
At the time of this incident, Holmes was on federal supervised release stemming from a 2019 conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2). Holmes also was on Washington State Department of Corrections community custody supervision from an unrelated state felony conviction. At today’s hearing, as part of his plea agreement, Holmes admitted to all pending violations of his federal supervised release. Holmes will be sentenced for that conduct on June 21, 2023 as well.
“This tragic case demonstrates the danger and violence that too frequently occurs when convicted felons possess firearms and engage in illegal drug trafficking,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am grateful for the exceptional courage and bravery of law enforcement officers, who put their personal safety at risk to protect our community, and I commend the ATF agents involved for their exceptional professionalism in rendering life-saving aid to Mr. Holmes before he could be treated at a hospital. Our community is stronger as a result of these agents’ tremendous service.”
ATF Resident Agent in Charge Sterling Nixon stated, “Our agents put their lives on the line every day to keep our community safe. When one of our agents was tragically shot in November 2021, the law enforcement community, including state, local, and federal agencies came together to investigate and prosecute this case. We’re grateful for the combined efforts to seek justice on behalf of our colleague and friend.”
“Mr. Holmes shot and seriously injured a federal law enforcement agent in an attempted robbery,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field Office. “Every day, the brave law enforcement officers in Washington state and across the country face dangerous situations to keep our communities safe. This case demonstrates the consequences of attacking law enforcement personnel. An attack on a law enforcement officer is an attack on the rule of law, and an attack on our community.”
This case has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Spokane Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Caitlin Baunsgard and Patrick Cashman.